Alcohol Detox and Rehab Is Too Late for Death from Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol Detox and Rehab Is Too Late for Death from Alcohol Poisoning

For weeks and months, we've been hearing and reading about the alcohol-related misadventures of famous families and Hollywood celebrities and how, one for one, they are all atoning for their behavior, apologizing (or not) to fans and judges, and checking into alcohol detox and rehab programs to deal with their demons. But there's another, deadlier aspect to alcohol abuse that isn't often mentioned in the news - sudden, unexpected accidental death from alcohol itself. Not a traffic accident and not a falling-drunk-out-a-window type accident.

This is sudden, unexpected death from the chemical effects of alcohol on the human body, too much alcohol all at once, called alcohol poisoning. Such deaths happen to first-time alcohol users as well as long-term habitual abusers. More than 1,400 people a year in the U.S. die from ingesting too much alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). And more than 50 college students a year die from it - that's nearly one a week. No time for warnings from friends or family, no time for helpful interventions, no time for enrolling in a life-saving alcohol detox and rehab program.

Alcohol poisoning occurs because alcohol is a poison. We don't normally associate a legal, edible substance with also being a potential poison, but when the level of alcohol in the blood (called Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC) gets too high, you will die. Alcohol abuse is fraught with myths:

Myth: The worst thing that can happen is that I'll pass out and have a hangover tomorrow.

Fact: Death occurs when the level of alcohol in the body acts as a poison when blood levels start rising above .35.

Myth: People pass out from drinking all the time - it's nothing to worry about.

Fact: When the body cannot tolerate the amount of alcohol you have put into it, you pass out. But it is something to worry about - alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows the heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and slows your breathing.

Important fact: The amount of alcohol it takes to make you pass out is dangerously close to the amount of alcohol it takes to make you dead! When one of the aforementioned celebrities was busted for an alcohol-related driving infraction, she had a BAC above .024, according to press reports, and she was nearly unconscious. The legal limit is .01 in most states. We can only hope that her alcohol detox and rehab program will include the above information and that the information will be meaningful to her.

Myth: The best thing to do for someone who is drunk is to put them to bed and let them sleep it off.

Fact: Partly true, but a drunk person is helpless and must be cared for. Never leave a drunk person alone, especially an unconscious one. Regularly check their breathing; it should be more than 10 breaths a minute. Check that their skin temperature isn't clammy, their coloring isn't blue or purple and frequently try to wake them. If they won't stir, or any of these other symptoms are present, call 911 immediately. This person could be dying.

Myth: I don't want to call for help, they're my friend and I don't want to get them in trouble.

Fact: When someone has passed out from drinking too much he or she is suffering from alcohol poisoning and needs medical attention. You'll be a lot sorrier if you don't call for help and your friend dies. That's a lot worse than catching hell from a wife, husband, parent or the cops. And if your friend is in any way a habitual or excessive drinker - a few drinks every day or getting drunk once or twice a week - get that person into an alcohol detox and rehab program as soon as possible. They'll thank you for saving their life - again. The only way to get down to the bottom of someone's alcohol abuse so they can quit drinking is through a good alcohol detox program and then into rehab. Don't take alcohol abuse lightly or laugh it off when someone you care about passes out. The next time they do that could be their last.

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